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Week 06. 3D Scanning and 3D Printing

This week I began learning about 3D Printing and 3D scanning. As we’ve began the 3D design in week 03, this week I focus on the hands-on skills in using the 3D printer & 3D scanner.

As usual, we have a group assignment & an individual assignment. - Group assignment:
- test the design rules for our 3D printer
- Individual assignment:
- design and 3D print an object
- 3D scan an object and optionally print it

3D Printing Technologies

There are many different technologies applied in 3D printing, including:
- FDM - Fused Deposition Modeling (commonly-used 3D printers & 3D printing pens). This technologoy usually use materials such as ABS & PLA (3mm & 1.75mm in diameter).
- STL - Stereolitography, by the applying UV light beams to produce Models. One of the famous STL 3D printer brand is FormLabs. We have one in Seeed office, but the material is much more expensive than the ABS & PLA.
- SLS - Selective Laser Sintering, similar to STL (replace UV with laser). - EBM - Electron Beam Melting, similar to SLS (but more exact & with more capability).
- LOM - Laminated Object Manufacturing, cut & glue lots (usually thousands) of sheets materials together to form a solid object.

Even though the most-commonly-used materials in 3D printing are ABS & PLA, the technologies make it possible to produce different types of machines that can 3D print many different materials including metal, glass, ceramics, cells, food etc. We’ve seen news that people apply 3D printing in making houses, bridges, organs etc.

I have to admit the current 3D printers are not user-friendly enough for people to use as the common printers in the office or at home. However, there is no doubt that 3D printers will be a very common home/office appliances for us in the near future. Just can’t wait!

3D Printer

We’ve had many different versions of different brands of 3D printers in our office and maker space. And this is the first time I print something by myself! It can alway give me an amazing feeling when I see something solid came out from my own design & operation!

The 3D printer I am using has the following characteristics:
- Model: Ender-3S
- Max printing dimension: 250mmx250mmx250mm
- Optimal Printing Temperature: PLA 210°C; ABS 230°C

Before printing my own design, my colleague walked me through the process of operating the 3D printer by printing a tiny cute Doraemon.
And here is the SOP of operating the Ender-3S 3D printer:
- 1. Turn on the switch
- 2. Press the round button to confirm
- 3. turn the round button to choose “准备(Get Ready)” => “自动回到原点(go back to origin by default)” => “关闭步进驱动(turn off the stepper driver)” (Note: after each step, press the round button to confirm)
- 4. calibrate the printing platform to make sure it’s horizontal. The platform can move forward and backward; and the printing nozzle can move left and right.
- 5.insert the TF card (with the file) into the TF slot.
- 6. turn the round button & choose “由储存卡(select from memory card)” => choose the file => confirm. (Note: (1) make sure all the files are saved in English, the system won’t be able to recognize Chinese characters. (2) Do not have blanks in the name, use _ instead.)
- 7. And it will start heating and then printing!

And after 45 minutes, I got the 1st Doraemon! Yay, so cute!!!

And then I started to print my own design. It’s a super simple one. Since I had my ears pierced on Christmas Eve, and I began to get some collections of earrings. So I made a small container for my earrings.

And I made the design on FreeCAD, with the dimension of the container as 60mm60mm60mm. However, the Ender-3S won’t be able to print STL. file directly. So I have to use their software to convert it into GCode file. Since they do not have a MacOs version available, I used my colleague’s Windows laptop to convert the file into GCode. Please see some screenshots below.
Open the Creality software & Choose the file

change the dimension to 404040mm

Since the original file 606060mm will take about 5.5 hours for printing. I changed the dimension to 40mm. However, it will still take a long time to print this dimension. So I changed the dimension to 30mm and update the speed as well. Now the current version is 30mmx30mmx30mm, and it will take 1hour20min to print.

To be honest, this dimension of container won’t be able to host many earrings. But I am eager to see the result. So I went with it. I will make a larger and more beautiful version later :D

And now I have my Gcode file ready for printing.

(3D printing in action)

And during yesterday evening’s regional review, I realized that my assignment did not meet the requirement, because I missed the most important part ” that could not be made subtractively”.

With the illustration and explanation from Ted and other gurus & instructors during the Asia region, I got a better understanding of what type of projects I need to design & 3D print.

And I have this new version of the 3D printing file, it’s a tiny pavilion with tiny objects including a cylinder, a cube, a ball, a cone & a hemisphere inside. In order to test & see how it works, I set the dimension as 10mmx10mmx13mm. And you can see how it works below. Here is what the tiny pavilion looks like :)


And here is the final result! It’s too tiny and not possible to see clearly. I will print a bigger version! :D _

3D Scanning

Since we do not have a 3D scanner in the lab, our local insturctor Yufei suggested we use 3D scanning APPs, and one of the recommended APP is Qlone.

I downloaded the APP onto my iPhone7, and use it to scan a few cute objects that my colleagues Kawi collects.

  1. First of all, I need to print this mat to be placed under the object to be 3D scanned.

  2. Secondly, place the object onto the mat, and use the Qlone APP to scan. In this process, make sure the 4 corners of mat are in the camera.

  3. Thirdly, move around the object, or turn the mat around, to make sure the camera/APP captures every layer and corner of the object.

  4. When the scanning is done, the APP will process the ‘debris’ of the scanning, and turn them into a whole one. You can choose to beautify/optimize the result.

  5. If the result is not satisfactory, you can also scan the second time, and choose to merge the scans.

  6. There are options after the scanning:

  7. export the file in different formats including: GIF, OBJ, STL, FBX, USDZ, GLB, X3D, PLY, Video and Image.

  8. share the files on platforms such as SketchFab, Imaterialise, Lens Studio, CGTrader, and Shapeways.

  9. share to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

However, it all requires credits, which need to be purchased, at a minimum of 30RMB for 5 models, or 98RMB for unlimited models.

Here are the objects that I chose for 3D scanning.

And here are the results on the Glone APP.

Files for downloading

small pavilion stl file

tiny pavilion link on Thingiverse